Saturday, November 29, 2008

GAMBIARRA - the Brazilian word for MAKE DO

I spent 2 weeks in new orleans this october helping to design a satellite event for the nascent biennial prospect.1. I agree that economic depression sure does something wonderful for bohemia. new orleans sparkles in it's make-do, post-katrina karisma. that it's been abandoned by the gentrifyers, the ikeas, the mcmansions and the 21st century suburban shopping centers, is its saving grace. venture capitalists see it as infertile and risky. insurance for property is ridiculously high. it hardly even has a market. . .it survives because of its vibrant art-filled culture composed of extreme characters and romantic materiality rotting away in the swamp. the people who are now drawn to it as it awaits it's future, have something other than money on their minds. to me it is an urban refuge which I am grateful to have rediscovered at this critical moment in history. . .and it's only 7 hours from the ATL.

I like the word gambiarra. it is a portuguese term which means to make-do with on-the-fly grace and resourcefulness. it's a true contemporary art. being a sometimes starving artist myself, I know it takes great character to stay positive, make stylish decisions, socialize and make art on zero budget. to be the ousider who solves problems with naive creative zeal despite also sometimes scraping or cheating to get what you need, or doing entirely without, without apology. meanwhile the parade of bells & whistles appear across every billboard, judgementally. . .every moving screen screams happily, every new upscale subdivision promotes a stale unsustainable dream. until recently in our culture, to make-do connoted failure. . .but in sao paulo, brazil, a "mega-city," a future of extreme capitalism. . . "gambiarra" is a commonly used compliment. . .in a place where the well-to-do drive armored suv's, and land private helicoptors on top of buildings to avoid the chaos and depression of the common streets.


Friday, November 28, 2008


I like to picture the future full of gardens! old parking lots filled with planned wildernesses. . . empty lots glassed in and left to become, once again, natural.

this image is from my latest body of work: everything disappears! it's an altered ad from a recent new york times magazine. inside a perfectly corporate piece of architecture, separated above the jungle. . .I made ghosts out of two suited professionals who gazed over their dominion, and also removed the tag line which was: Us & Them. . .

here are a few personalized definitions:

natural: (not unlike the word/concept --sacred)
that thing or space that has been untouched by human manipulation for a significant period of time.

supernatural that which is more than natural (the prefix-super means above and over, greater than, beyond, outside, transcending). . .and what, then is that? . . .high technology of an entirely beyond human nature.

spirituality: an individual's relationship to the unknown.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I had a thought yesterday, that I should have named this blog 21ST CENTURY MYSTIC. wonder if that's already taken. . .

I think my lifetime will witness the re-spiritualization of industrialized society. it would be nice to design the magic back in, be inclusive of the mysterious beliefs and traditions of the global south/3rd world, as they merge with us in this one-world info network. it would also be nice to be inclusive of our ancient ancesters, who we are learning have a lot to teach us about our relationshiop to the earth. the attached 3-d image is by artist Adam Bruneau. It's lovely the way the red, green and blue are out of registration, kind of like early 20th cent litho illustrations. the more out of register, the more I can see the invisible in the image. cool.

I once saw what I would say was a ghost in a throw away photograph. I was at a friend's house, and they were showing me rather mundane snapshots (real prints & not a flicker site) and then there were some mistakes prints at the end of the stack. I looked into one of the blurred photographs, and a figure became clear. . .a woman in a bun carrying a basket ( of laundry? ) up the stairs, looked like the same stairs that I could see in front of me from their living room. ?? I cannot explain it.

there is hardly a line which distinquishes the imagination from intuition. I wonder: which trigger which? in fact in order to see the invisible past or future, to tap into innate human psychic ability, one must begin with the gift of imagination.

perhaps with the speeding up of our shared sense of time (due to a mad race of technology), we will be thrust beyond an age of science. Logic is too slow for our world. who has time to go through proper scientific processes other than serious professionals in labs? everyday people coping with a rather fast reality are now beaconed-- or rather rushed long--to take leaps of intuition in order to make daily choices. slow contemplation, consideration, logic: they are for the stuborn luddites and a few post-colonial elites who still maintain the luxury of timely pursuits. (ubiquitous ads in the new york times publications promote men's wrist watches, as well as diamonds for the ladies. . .it indicates something symbolic. madison ave has invented an expensive fetish out of the old-fashioned wrist watches, roman numerals and all. . .in the 21st century, those who wear thousand dollar wrist watches, hand them down to their sons as the ads sometimes illustrate, have control in that old-fashioned, leisurely sense of time. . .wrist watches are the new top hat.)


Monday, November 24, 2008


this photograph is from a found photo album that I inhereited from someone else's junk pile (it's a bunch of dudes in mcdonalds baseball uniforms, gleefully drinkin' company sponsored beer). . .regretfully, I passed the album along to the thrift store before I realized how valuable it was as a whole. . .but this was one of the photographs I did keep. . .kind of says it all about corporate conformity. (my dad, too was a gung-ho corpo-bot. . .afraid to show too much of his own identity at work, and always wearing corporate logos at home. . .I don't think the man owned a sweater without a TEXACO logo on it.)

needless to say, I recently joined facebook. . .and it strikes me that now it's easier than ever to be light and distant friends with a whole lot of people. . .but this kind of friendship--or I guess networking is a more appropriate word--this is something that really confronts a person like me.

I do my best and am most myself in intimate, intense relationships. I like one-on-one contact the best. . . and I also enjoy rather small groups. participation in large anonymous groups like walking down a crowded foreign city street. . .is rather nice sometimes. but being in a kind of mega-social group. . .makes me uneasy, is unbearable light. perhaps it's because like so many of us who grew up in the suburbs, I lived without proper public social space (piazzas, parks, cafe's). . . and without access to virtual social spaces. my generation was accustomed to isolation. it was good for the imagination, good for character building, good for contemplation and tv-overload, good for getting fat. . .we were out of the practice of being friendly in a very light and flexible way that is now achievable online. no dire consequences, no face-to-face intensity. . .just virtual humans buzzing like absent-minded flies around the web.

my first experience being online was in 1994. I was so excited. . .I thought: I can now communicate with others mind-to-mind. . .no bodies in the way. . .I wanted to be a part of the revolution which would overthrow petty small talk and connect brains straight up. I thought I would meet the most cutting edge thinkers and mental explorers, people who wanted to change the world, invent a new society, dream together. . .and then I actually got online. . .in those days, you joined chat rooms. at $5.95/an hour I surfed around idealistically, expensively on my sluggish black and white laptop. and, what I found, were a lot of sex-hungry idiots screaming in ALL CAPS! reading group discussions always included lovecraft and king. I did not get lucky enough and certainly was not savvy to find at least one satisfying small group to be a part of. . .had to wait a decade for that. . .and kind of still looking.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008


the SKELETONS played last night at eyedrum, sharing the bill strangely with APG poetry readings. everything was late, late, late, but they gave an inspirational show to about 20 people (a classic eyedrum small crowd). . .the bass player looked great in a sparkling blue dress. we partied later with naz at amy's house, nearby. . .ate sweet potato pie, talked and laughed. . .and sooner or later, the spray cans came out.

you see we live in a neighborhood being oppressed by a yuppie's version of paradise. . .we don't even have to live in a loft, to experience the stiff corporate monoculture that patrols this place, an old bohemian stomping ground. . .the professionals have become serious about graffiti. . . they removed a major landmark of public expression: the cabbagetown wall is now all one cheerful green color. this green paint has even migrated imperialistically out of the neighborhood onto walls, garbage canisters and empty buildings in adjacent areas. "a safe neighborhood is a clean neighborhood" is announced in the neghborhood newsletter. and now we live next to a 1/4-mile, green reminder of who is in control of our neighborhood. we all have to look like martha stewart's living room, or some dumbed down corpo version of it. . .ho hum.

so we went out all 6 of us, and decorated the wall in question for a while. . .diamonds & money signs. . .corpo-norm, llamas, metallica, some cool drawings. . .and then the cops came and made a big to-do of lights, arrested 3 of the skeletons randomly. . .cuffed amy and I but then let us go (?). took them to jail & fined them $753 each. it was all very sobering. we followed our friends in the paddy wagon to a gas station parking lot where they parked for a long time, laughed, bought snacks. amy got out of the cozy travel van and filmed them with her digital camera. a very fashionable, crazed black woman (brown fur coat, white plaid hoody) sent us dagger looks through the front windshield, gesticulated and argued profusely with the freezing air. her battle was perfectly juxtaposed.

they will intimidate all unofficial, unauthorized artistic expression out of this city, might as well live in a gated subdivision. (and what kind of art can be made in that environment? ) officer wolf had no humor; this is his beat. "it's his baby," another arresting officer put it. . .they also mentioned no less than 3 times that they've been furloughed (10% pay cuts). another officer, who was much more cynical and talkative at the precinct said mayor shirley franklin will do whatever it takes to be "in the black" when she leaves office. 3 x $753 ain't bad. I walked over to see the wall just an hour ago, and all the artwork was gonzo. I watched two chubby women in sweats walk away with buckets of green paint. . . .they are in control, no doubt about it. and, I am back in high school again.

what does this mean? it means we have to be a lot more stealth if we want to publish in that spot. . . .ho hum.

it also means atlanta is gonzo, before it ever fully bloomed.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

beautiful sadness! -- the cult of positivity

I think sad is beautiful!!!!

I'm for more sad in art, we need to get it out. . .this world is changing. . .things are dying, new things replace them. . .and not all of them are very cool at all. damnit. . .it's ok to express melancholy.

it's the way I feel a whole lot. and, it's not surprising really. it's healthy to be sad sometimes, despite the pressures from the cult of positivity. in my experience, growing up in the deep american suburbs of the 80s & 90s, positivity is a coping mechanism. . .but also a way to oppress those who struggle against total assimilation into the monoculture. but it might be healthier to let people express their sadness over the loss of more diverse, less commercial subcultures, and the loss of unmanufactured space. . .progress is good AND awful, both. in a progress-only world, a lot of invisible constituents are forced deeper into invisibility. . .(more on that later)

I recently installed a billboard on the side of my house in cabbagetown. . .in response to the sad, sad "cleaning" of the c'town wall, a symbol of territory ownership by the professionals who gentrify this place. the image, posted above, is a sad one, but also beautiful. . .in the tradition of opera, drama & requiems. sadness, which a lot of people feel right now, is important to acknowledge. billboards are our most common form of public art. . .and most all of it is advertising (images with words, almost never - images only). Large public advertising for the most part is exceedingly HAPPY! when one feels sad, looking at screaming smiles sure can be antagonistic.

just talked to louise shaw last night, about the line between positivity/unquestioning acceptance of corpo-norms (the currrent norm of the american mainstream), and outright foolish denial. thin line, indeed.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008


everything disappears!

EVERYTHING DISAPPEARS. . .it's my mantra. (like others before)

it's a philosophy of acceptance. our world changes so fast, it's as if things are appearing and disappearing before my eyes. I am an artist, a designer, a thinker. . .I'm a good observer. . .I live in a very mainstream corporate city. . .a sort of cultural battlefield, a provincial town struggling for (imaginal) international acceptance. . .a little high on the hope of it. . .our optimism is sometimes blinding. I would love to live somewhere else. . .but for now I am here, watching everythingdisappear in the urban forest!

. . .

I started a blog today, because I need a place to publish my thoughts & opinions, let off steam, practice my voice.

word of the day is: corpo-norm. I went to a well-meaning art event last night--over 400 artists applying for $1500. we sat while the presenter told us how special we are, that curators and gate-keepers are very curious to discover the artists in atlanta. and this is how they will meet us. . .through an on-line bureaucratic form, a standardized resume (the ole C.V) and 8 jpegs. not very southern at all. . .

I often wonder why we want to turn all activities into a profession. . .I'm rather starting to dislike the word.

(more on that later)

ciao! -kt